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AusSuper, Singtel-owned ATN buys phone towers business Axicom

Australian Tower Network Pty Ltd, the former Singtel Optus Pty Ltd phone towers unit taken over by AustralianSuper last year, has agreed to a A$3.58 billion ($2.68 billion) deal for peer Axicom Pty Ltd, the companies said Friday.

The deal for the business, which is owned by Macquarie Asset Management and runs about 2000 sites located in each of Australia’s capital cities, will dilute the Singapore Telecommunications Ltd’s remaining ownership in ATN down to 18% from 30%, while expanding the Australian pension fund’s stake to 82%, the companies said.

Axicom is the largest independent operator of mobile phone towers at a time when the nation’s two largest telecommunications players, Singtel and Telstra Corp, have each sold part of their phone tower assets garnering $2.1 billion and $1.4 billion, respectively.

“Axicom is complementary to our existing digital infrastructure portfolio and this acquisition will result in the creation of a provider with a truly national footprint that will connect the vast majority of Australian families and businesses,” AustralianSuper Head of Infrastructure Nik Kemp was quoted as saying.

Macquarie Asset Management invested in Axicom in 2015, and has more than doubled the weighted average lease length, the firm said in its own statement.

“This acquisition is a unique opportunity to scale up ATN’s operations and expand its customer base,” Singtel Group Chief Corporate Officer Lim Cheng Cheng was quoted as saying. “It also reinforces Singtel’s commitment as a long-term investor in the Australian telecoms space.” Bloomberg

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